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Huge Fire Threatens Chile's Historic Port City

Chilean officials say a huge fire has killed at least two people and destroyed 500 homes in the port city of Valparaiso.

Firefighters are struggling to bring the blaze under control, as Pacific coast winds fan the flames. The firefighters' work is also hampered by the city's topography. Valparaiso is surrounded by steep hills where most people live.

Chile's president, Michele Bachelet, has declared a state of emergency, placing armed forces on the city's streets to maintain order and prevent looting. Five thousand people have been evacuated from their homes. Authorities have set up shelters.

Valparaiso Mayor Jorge Castro described the blaze as the worst fire in the city's history.

The fire started Saturday. It has caused power cuts.

Valparaiso is 120 kilometers northwest of Chile's capital, Santiago.

Valparaiso's colorful houses from the late 19th and early 20th century, plus its cobbled streets and trams running up near-vertical rails supported its listing as a UNESCO-protected heritage site.

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